Cherokee County officials have lifted mask and temperature check requirements at the courthouse.
The citywide mask mandate has also expired, with no immediate plans to extend it, but Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron said City Hall still requires that masks be worn.
On Tuesday, March 30, District 3 Cherokee County Commissioner Clif Hall said he and other officials have agreed that masks and temperature checks are no longer necessary when entering the building.
“I made the decision once we got our sign placed out front, and we’ve been talking about since before spring break,” said Hall. “We all came to a consensus and felt like it was time to do this.”
The courthouse has been operating with limited access since the COVID-19 virus began shutting down the entire country last year.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Porter Neel has guarded the entrance of the courthouse since April 2020, and made sure all who came inside the building didn’t have a fever and were wearing masks.
Neel said there has never been anyone with a fever who attempted to enter the building since he’s been at his post.
Hall said the county has installed $4,000 worth of plexiglass and guards during the pandemic, and those will permanently remain in every office for safety purposes.
“We feel like it was time to do it, unless numbers begin increasing, and then we’ll go back to operating like we have been,” said Hall. “As far as the county’s property — the second and third floor [of the courthouse] — you’re not required to wear a mask.”
The citywide mask mandate expired at 11:59 p.m., March 31, but Catron confirmed masks are still required at City Hall.
“The mandate required use of masks across the city. That the mandate has met its sunset date does not mean that our community has reached herd immunity through case numbers and vaccines,” said Catron. “Many individuals are still at risk of catching COVID-19, either in its original form or as one of the variants.”
Ray Hammons, city compliance coordinator, said he did not believe face coverings will be further mandated by the mayor’s office. However, if businesses choose to have the mask requirement in place, customers will be required to wear them.
“We wore masks yesterday to help protect our neighbors and should wear our masks tomorrow for the same reason,” said Catron.